We were blindsided by release of preliminary report - family of man who took his life at Parliament

2019-03-14 06:16

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The family of Lennox Garane, a parliamentary officer who committed "protest suicide", said this week that they were blindsided by the release of a preliminary report on the incident without their knowledge.

Garane, who was the section manager for policy in the international and protocol division of Parliament, died in his office on September 14 after he shot himself.

News24 previously reported that Garane's son Sithembiso blamed Parliament for his father's death, claiming the institution - including its presiding offers - were aware of and failed to resolve his father's 20-month dispute.

Sithembiso said this week that they were shocked to find out through the media on Sunday that the Public Service Commission (PSC) had released its preliminary report.

"Our irritation is compounded by the fact that this is contrary to what our family was promised by both the presiding officers and the chair of the PSC late last year," he said in a statement.

On Tuesday, PSC chairperson, advocate Richard Sizani, responded to the family's concerns about the report in a letter.

Sizani said the report was submitted to the acting secretary of Parliament last Monday for the "parliamentary administration and affected parties" to comment and respond to questions.

"The PSC has thus not finalised its investigation and it is unfortunate that its preliminary report was leaked to the media."

Sizani noted that the PSC had made all reasonable efforts to safeguard the confidentiality of the report.

He said he would let the family know when the investigation was complete, once the final report had been submitted to Parliament.

Sithembiso said they had been promised they would be kept informed "at every step of the investigation".

He added it was absurd that the family was not considered an "affected party", especially as they were in possession of some of Garane's documents.

In December, the family forwarded a letter to the PSC that it initially sent to Parliament.

They sought clarity from the PSC on its jurisdiction over Parliament, shared concerns that there may be a conflict of interest due to its reporting structure, and asked about the nature of its directives or remedial actions. 

They also wanted the terms of reference to be broadened from an "…investigation into personnel practices pertaining to Mr Lennox Garane…" to "…investigation into organisational, administrative and personnel practices…".

"The main reason for the family to prefer the scope to be expanded is due to our belief that the deceased did not lay down his life due to his individual circumstances but in protest against wider organisational culture that enables perpetration of these acts," Sithembiso explained.

The family said the PSC had still not responded to their request for clarity.

Sizani said in his letter: "I am informed that Parliament responded to the family".

Sithembiso said they believed that sending the letter to the PSC was "the right thing to do". 

"And in the interest of justice, and in executing its constitutional mandate the PSC is obliged to answer those questions," he said.

"We remain hopeful that the PSC will act in the spirit espoused by the Constitution and in line with its mandate 'to exercise its powers and to perform its functions without fear, favour or prejudice'."

Read more on:    cape town  |  parliament 2019
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